Whenever anyone is asked who the Premier League’s best striker is, they would often reel of names such as Rooney, Tevez, Berbatov, Drogba.
Now there is no doubt that these players are some of the PremierLeague’s best strikers and on their day can wreck havoc against any defense.
But another player who is scoring goals freely and playing some great football is Arsenal’s Robin van Persie. In the past few months he has managed to stay fairly injury free and has notched up 14 goals in all competitions including 11 goals to be the top scorer in the Premier League for the year 2011.
There has never been any doubt that van Persie is a fantastic striker with impeccable ability and great technical skill. He has a wide range of skills that make him invaluable to the Gunners.
His constant injuries has meant that he struggles to notch up even 30 games a season in the league for his side with his highest being 28 games in the 2008-09 season.
It is a real shame that he spends half the time on the injury table because otherwise I believe he has the talent and the ability to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo.
But it is hard to call a player who has scored only more than twenty goals in a season once, the Premier League’s best striker.
But van Persie’s recent form has shown that when fit there is no doubt about the talent and quality the Dutchman has. Despite missing half the season to injury, van Persie is mounting a late surge for the Golden Boot but it is most probably going to be a step too far for the Dutchman.
But van Persie’s recent heroics have made me ponder whether he is the Premier League’s most effective strikers. Even the statistics indicate that van Persie may just be the Premier League’s most effective striker.
After returning from the World Cup this season, van Persie was not fully fit so he only made two substitute appearances against Blackpool and Liverpool and picked up an assist against the former. In his first start of the season against Blackburn he assisted Theo Walcott before he picked up an injury once again.
Ever since his return he has been in scintillating form and has scored goals for fun. He has scored some real beauties and has been on top of his game and has strengthened Arsenal’s title bid ever since his return.
The statistics show just how effective he has been when compared to the likes of Berbatov, Rooney, Drogba, and Tevez.
Van Persie scores a goal every 87.27 minutes which is extremely impressive when compared to the likes of Tevez who scores a goal every 123.5 minutes or Berbatov who scores a goal every Berbatov 98.65 minutes.
The stats paint a clear picture of how van Persie is extremely efficient and effective when on the pitch and can score more goals than some of the other top strikers for the same time spent on the pitch.
People always complain about how Arsenal need a striker who can guarantee them twenty goals a season but these statistics go onto show that if fit van Persie is the man who can become Arsenal’s lynchpin and lead the Gunners.
Even other statistics are highly in his favor: van Persie scores or assists a goal every 60 minutes which is the best ratio among all strikers in the Premier League.
When it comes to minutes per assists also he is one of the leading strikers behind only Englishman, Wayne Rooney who assists a goal every 152.5 minutes when compared to van Persie’s 192 minutes. But Rooney has scored only seven goals all season when compared to van Persie’s 11 goals.
This season van Persie has spent only 960 minutes on the pitch but he has already scored more than Drogba, Rooney, Torres, Anelka and has played at least 1000 minutes lesser than these players.
A reason for van Persie’s success can be attributed to his style of play which largely differs from the likes of Tevez or Berbatov. While on paper van Persie may be the lone striker in Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 formation, he rarely plays like an out and out striker.
He constantly drops deep or into the wings to create space for his teammates and his movement often acts as a decoy for his teammates. His style of play and great link up play is one of the main reason for the vast amount of assists he accumulates.
Last season until van Persie’s injury Arsenal averaged close to three goals a game but after his injury Arsenal’s scoring rate dropped close to a goal a game.
Van Persie has shown that he can score goals against the best of defenses and his pace and movement can be extremely effective in creating space for himself and for his teammates.
Now every season he is often injured but when he his fit he scores goals consistently and has always been in top form over the past three years and despite all the constant injuries he has performed to his best every season.
All this go to show beyond doubt that this Dutchman has enough talent to become the league’s best. Some of his critics have often stated that he does not possess the right foot or the heading ability to be labeled the best. But this season he has scored three goals with his weaker right foot and has scored two with his head as well.
It’s hard to call a striker who rarely plays thirty games a season the league’s best. While the truth is that van Persie has the potential to soar great heights, it’s hard to imagine his body holding up. This means that while Robin van Persie remains one of Arsenal’s most valuable players and one of the league’s most effective, his injury woes will forever keep him grounded.
But who knows, he might stay injury free next season and show the world that he is definitely one of the Premier League’s best striker or at least one of the best.